Steelers Preseason Preview: Better Without Ben

For the first time in 18 seasons the Pittsburgh Steelers have a QB not named Ben, under center. For fans this is a bittersweet moment and a changing of the guard. A constant of the franchise, and for at least 16 of those 18 seasons, a dependable top half-of-the-league QB is gone. There is uncertainty in Pittsburgh; however, in spite of this change Pittsburgh has a chance to be a better team this season.

How? How are they going to be better when we know the division got better? First, Cincy retooled their O-line and are coming off a Super Bowl birth. Second, Baltimore can expect to have a bounce back year after adding to an already solid defense and Lamar is still the most electric QB in the league. Third, the Browns, while morally bankrupt, added a former top 5 QB (if he returns to form of two years ago and isn’t suspended). I hear all of that. However, let’s look at what Pittsburgh did the last two years of Ben’s career.

In Roethlisberger’s final two seasons the Steelers finished at 12-4 and 9-7-1. Those Steeler teams accomplished this with a 40-year old statue with a limited arm at QB. 31 other starting QBs in the league could have one of their feet cemented in concrete and they would still have moved at a faster pace than Big Ben did from 2020-2021. In his final two seasons, Ben’s yards per attempt hovered around Sam Darnold’s with the Jets numbers (averaging around 6.25). That isn’t good. Especially when Pitt has an exciting and diverse receiving core and now one of the most exciting and versatile running backs in the league.

I say all this not to trash Ben, but to point out that whether it’s new first round pick Kenny Pickett or Mitch Trubisky, the Steelers are going to have a more mobile and MUCH MORE athletic QB for this upcoming season. On top of that, even if they put together an average season this team should be able to compete for a Wild Card spot. Look what they did with a walking corpse under center? 12 wins!? HOW!? T.J. Watt and Minkah Fitzpatrick is how. Guess what? They’re still there and so is Najee Harris. There is an argument to be had that Ben held Pittsburgh back in 2021.

All this to say, it’s an exciting time for Steeler fans, no matter who takes the majority of the snaps this year. As long as Pickett or Trubisky don’t become turnover machines, they will be taking control of a team that is very well rounded. This Steelers team isn’t going to be easy to beat, and isn’t that all you want with a rookie QB or a reclamation project QB?

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